Letter to the Editor
“The A&P Tax; for more than a year it has created intense debate in the Searcy community. Much of the tension over the issue centers on how the tax was originally passed, without the consent of the voters. Now that the issue has been placed before the citizens it can be discussed open and honestly, as it should be.
In a broader sense, you have to appreciate that we are watching democracy at work. No matter the outcome of the special election on April 13th, it will be good for our city to have had this discourse.
Given the current state of the issue, I feel it is necessary to shift the debate to the practical concerns over the tax. I have 3 major reasons that I am against the tax.
1. Economic prudence. The simple question we should ask is, “Is this the time to raise taxes?” Many proponents of the tax try to act as though it is such a minute sum that it really shouldn’t even be considered a tax in that way. Ok then, we’ll call it a legally compelled donation to the city. Regardless what you call it, it’s money out of your pocket. Maybe you feel that you can afford that and it is certainly a variable concerning the argument. However, even if the tax is palatable to your checking account, will you be as keen on the method of spending it? My next two points deal with this question.
2. No plan/accountability for spending. Swimming pools, parks, civic centers, baseball fields, senior citizens, the list goes on. We have heard dozens of proposed uses for the money and I must admit I can’t disagree that any of those would be nice for our city. The problem is that it is the decision of the commission as to how the money is spent. Hundreds of thousands of dollars have been wasted and spent unethically in other A&P towns in Arkansas. While I don’t expect such corruption in Searcy, the A&P structure is not a wise way to conduct the people’s business. If citizens want improvements to our facilities (I assume we all do in one way or another) it would be far more prudent to decide where the funds are needed and pass a special tax, with designations and a sunset clause. The A&P Tax is a slush fund with no direction.
3. False premise of results. The A&P Tax has been sold as a money-making opportunity. The line of reasoning that has gained so much support by local business owners is that the money will be spent to build nice facilities that will in turn bring more people (read: money) to the city. The “if you build it, they will come” theory has some merit. However, true growth is the result of businesses choosing Searcy as a place to do business. We can make the decision easier for such businesses if we have quality parks and public facilities, but the real issues that matter to industries and business owners are infrastructure, and public safety. Moreover, it is the responsibility of our elected officials to make the effort to recruit these businesses in the first place. If we don’t have true leaders who can shake some hands and make business want to do business here, we will be nothing more than “a nice place to visit” at the mercy of a fickle tourism market.
When we get a Mayor and Council that knows how to “press some flesh” and promote our city, we will truly see economic growth.”
Derek R. Glover
The Arkansas Patriot is a conservative organization dedicated to equipping citizens with the truth, insuring transparent government, and encouraging citizens to question their government boldly. The editor can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org Follow The Patriot on Twitter and Facebook.